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Once upon a time, the NBA granted expansion franchises to Vancouver and Toronto and expanded into Canada. Players in the NBA did not know all that much about either city, but when they looked at a map they were convinced they wanted no part of relocating to British Columbia.

Once they got there, they discovered that it is one of the greatest cities in all of North America, with a temperate climate, a nude beach, a spectacular view of both the mountains and the water, and a laissez-faire attitude that prompted some to dub it Vansterdam.

But ownership of the Vancouver Grizzlies was not deep-pocketed, and Canadians were not willing to pay the prices that Americans were for tickets. The franchise floundered and eventually relocated to Memphis in 2001 when Ja Morant was 2 years old.

That little history lesson is in order this Tuesday morning because the Grizzlies are a team that people are starting to talk about, and they have the national stage tonight at home playing a Golden State Warriors team that finally has Klay Thompson back.

Memphis has won nine straight for the NBA’s longest winning streak, and Morant went viral over the weekend for his Block of the Year as the Grizzlies were in Los Angeles sweeping the Lakers and Clippers on consecutive nights.

Which was followed shortly thereafter by this:

This writer interviewed NBA Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas for the site and the conversation turned to the Grizzlies, who are one of Thomas’ favorite teams to watch because of the way they take their game to their opponent with a sort of "we’re going to play our way, and you are going to have to match it" attitude.

Tonight they get put to the test against the team tied (with Phoenix) for first place in the West, and the Suns have a test of their own as they play in Canada against the former expansion team that was able to survive in Canada. The Raptors are winners of six straight and tied with Dallas for the second-longest streak in the NBA right now: six consecutive wins.

The Grizzlies are a one-point ‘dog and the Raptors are getting four points against the Suns. Memphis is 27-15-0 against the spread, trailing only Cleveland 26-13-2. Golden State is right behind them at 23-14-2, but is 5-5-1 as a road favorite.

The Raptors are 1-4-0 as a home underdog, while the Suns are 8-5-0 against the spread as a road favorite.

We are nearing the midpoint of the season for all 30 NBA teams (12 teams have already gotten there), and while Brooklyn, Golden State and Phoenix are favored to win the championship for obvious reasons, the wagering community has to expect that there will be somebody like the Suns last season or the Heat the season prior who makes it to the championship round when almost nobody expected it.

The Chicago Bulls currently lead the Eastern Conference but are +1100 to win the East. They get to go for a season sweep of the Nets on Wednesday night in Chicago as Brooklyn is expected to have Kyrie Irving, James Harden and Kevin Durant playing together for the first time all season. If the Bulls get the sweep, maybe that +1100 is your best bet (you do not even have to care if they win the title).

We also have the Philadelphia 76ers riding a seven-game winning streak with Joel Embiid playing at an MVP level, averaging 32.9 points per game during the streak. They are on the board at +1100, and you must assume that they eventually will flip Ben Simmons for the best deal they can get before the Feb. 10 trade deadline, which is now less than a month away.

The Sixers will play nine of their next 12 at home, and if Embiid keeps doing what he is doing, he is an excellent go-against-the-crowd MVP candidate wager at his current odds of +4000. Pardon us for pooping on the Curry party, but the guy has shot under 50 per cent in 11 of his last 12 games.

Anyway, back to tonight’s slate, which includes an NBA-TV doubleheader of Warriors-Grizzlies and Nuggets-Clippers. There are six games in all, and we have a take on all six. (If you heed the advice, please remember to parlay and round robin.)

Oklahoma City at Washington: The Wizards, favored by nine, have had five close games this month, going 2-3. The Thunder stink and have gone under in five of six. OKC is 7-3-0 ATS in non-conference games and 11-7-0 ATS in road games. Their overall 25-14-0 ATS record is third-best in the NBA behind Cleveland and Memphis. Take OKC and the points along with the under.

Thunder +9 (-110)

Under 214.5 points (-110)

Phoenix at Toronto: This one will be played in an empty arena under Ontario’s coronavirus restrictions, and the Suns will have been cooped up all day at their hotel for two reasons: There is almost nowhere to go because of lockdown-like conditions, and the temperature this morning was -4 degrees Fahrenheit. So the assumption is that they will be cold, literally. Does that carry over? Who knows? What we do know is that Fred Van Vleet has scored at least 30 in five of the six games during the winning streak, and he will be stoked to go against Chris Paul. We like VV to go over 3.5 3-pointers (he hasn’t had fewer than four since Dec. 13, a span of eight games), and over 22.5 points.

Fred VanVleet over 3.5 3-pointers made (-165)

Fred VanVleet over 22.5 points (-120)

Detroit at Chicago: The spread is 14, and who the heck knows what we will see from the Pistons on the second night of a back-to-back. They’ve defeated the Bucks, Magic and Jazz this month, but also lost to Charlotte by 29 and Memphis by 30. Saddiq Bey scored 29 at Utah, but the last time he played the second half of a back-to-back he went 1-for-9 at Memphis and scored 3 points. Take the under on Bey’s point total over/under line of 18.5.

Saddiq Bey under 18.5 points (+100)

Golden State at Memphis: Morant has blocked a shot in three straight games and has missed every 3-pointer he has attempted in three straight games. We expect him and Curry to put on a show, and it is important to know that Draymond Green did not travel with the team. He will be sorely missed. Jaren Jackson Jr. has been playing especially well lately, so take the over on his rebounds (5.5) and blocks (1.5).

Jaren Jackson Jr. over 5.5 rebounds (-125)

Jaren Jackson Jr. over 1.5 blocks (+105)

Minnesota at New Orleans: The Wolves are four-point road favorites with their four-game winning streak. Jarred Vanderbilt is coming off a 19-rebound effort against Houston, which was preceded by a 16-rebound game and a 13-rebound game, both against the Thunder. His rebound over/under seems low at 9.5 because he has been in double figures in six of the past eight games. This game, however, is going to be very much about Karl-Anthony Towns (coming off a 40-point outing) vs. Jonas Valanciunas. Do not ruin your parlay card with anything from this game. Both teams are too skittish.

Denver at L.A. Clippers: Nikola Jokic has been incredible lately and had 22 rebounds the last time he faced the Clippers. Last season, his rebound totals vs. the Clippers were 14, 7 and 9. His rebound over/under is 13.5, so many stay away given the history. The Nuggets have been under in seven of nine, and the Clips have been under in two of three – but the over/under of 212.5 is the lowest on the board and scares us. The best wager here is a straight cover of the three points by the Nuggets.

Nuggets -3 (-110)